I’m tired of people saying that the Winnipeg Jets haven’t gotten any better since last season. The brass for the Jets since the get-go have stated that this team is going to build through the draft, and build a team reminiscent of The Pittsburgh Penguins and The Chicago Blackhawks. Chevy being the former Asst. GM for the Hawks and working under Scotty and Stan Bowman, it’s believable that he may have picked up a habit or two from these two brilliant minds. Sure, the Pens hit the jackpot with Crosby and Malkin in back to back years, and Hawks didn’t do too shabby with local boy Johnny Toews and Patrick Kane in their own draft. Looking at the Jets draft history thus far, names like Schieffle and Trouba, although superstars in their own right, won’t have the opportunity to shine in the league until they hit the post season, and the rest of the NHL gets to see them test their metal. If only every team (especially ours) had a european scouting staff like the Red Wings, who don’t even take their feet off the table at the draft until the 4th round. With the latest landscape in the Western Conference, it’s hard to think that the Jets are making it promise land this year, to add 3 years in a row that the franchise will be looked upon as a disappointment in the history books.
The teams 51 points, 4 back of a playoff spot last season (2012-13 shortened due to the lockout), may look more attractive on the surface, as the team played down to the wire, and the 2011-12 season 8 points back of a post season birth, it’s easy to see the baby steps taken over one season. Examining the team at this point, with 9 games left to play, and 6 points out of 8th spot in the west, the Jets will be playing the math game right until the league plays it’s final regular season game.
A simpleton would look at the stats and simply say, “This team isn’t getting any better… I think we’re getting worse”, but if you dig a little deeper into how the season played out, you’ll see that the Jets have gotten better since last season. As of right now, the Jets goal differential is 11 goals better than last season, and given the tougher conference and tougher division, if the Jets had the same division, and the same weighted games against the Southeast division, it’s easy to fathom that this team would be challenging for not only a playoff spot, but for the 3rd seed in the east as division winners. If you really wanted to break it down (I don’t, I have way too much shit on my plate as is), but a simple formula to see how we would’ve matched up against the SE division this year. Break down the record against SE teams this past season vs last, multiply last years by 1.7 (to compensate for the shortened season), and then swap out -1.2 games against current divisional record, then make a 10×8 chart on your wall in black sharpie and mutter to yourself how Alan Guth “Ain’t got nutin‘ on me” before you come to your conclusion.
Are there question marks? Sure, from crease to face off circle the team has room to grow, some believe that it would be better to tank and get a better draft position over the next few years (did I hear
name?!), or to make risky deals at the deadline to make a push for playoffs, but the brass over on Hargrave aren’t going to shift their mindset, a good grouping of prospects are in the system (I think this past years world juniors tournament proved that), and will have a core of young players to learn and build from.
Patience has been an overused word around MTS Centre in the last 3 years, and sure the shine of the NHL is starting to wear off some, but believe in the process, the management is building a winning franchise, not a flash in the pan to appease minority who wants to see the team lose in the first round year after year (shades of the Jets 1.0). Blame the first 2/3s of the season on Claude if you want, but the Viagra everyone was taking when Maurice showed up dissipated without a doctors visit after the team recent stretch of 10 with a dismal 2-5-3.
I won’t say to be patient, everyone should be critical of this team, with over 1 million GM’s in this province, I would expect the good majority of you to be crunching numbers in the off-season trying to figure out what free agents we can afford and what contracts to dump. But don’t think for a second that this team isn’t improving, as fans, we just have to learn how to improve with them. It could be worse, we could’ve had the 1st overall pick in the last 3 drafts… Just look how well it working out for the Oilers.